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F1 tightens up on loose wheels

2013-07-26 08:46

NO MORE FLYING WHEELS, OK?' Formula 1 has implemented a 10-place grid penalty for any driver released from his pit with a loose wheel. Image: AP

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Formula 1 team managers discussed introducing a minimum pit-stop time, without reaching any agreement, as pits lane safety remained a hot topic ahead of the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The International Automobile Federation did, however, relax the complete ban on TV reporters and photographers working in the pits lane during practice sessions. Camerman and reporters will have access to a limited number of special waistcoats which will allow access.


Team agreed on a 10-place grid penalty for the driver if a car is released from its pit with a loose wheel. The rule will be implemented for the 2013 Hungarian GP.

The pits-lane speed limit has been reduced from 100 to 80km/h during all sessions.

The tighter measures have been imposed since Red Bull released Mark Webber's car during the 2013 German GP without securing his right rear wheel. It bounced away and injured cameraman Paul Allen.

Webber, leaving F1 at the end of 2013 for a new career with Porsche in 2014, said he had texted Allen, who is recovering from a broken collarbone and broken ribs.

Webber said: "He's in sensational spirits. It's good that he's a bit of an old warrior, he's not precious. He's a good lad and knows none of it was done through anything intentional. We all dodged a bullet that day and all of us were thinking of his health - it's great that he's relatively OK."

Despite the Nurburgring incident, Webber doubted slower pit-stops would make much of a difference and felt there was an element of media hysteria: "I think there still needs to be a competition in the pits."


Pit stops have become far quicker in F1 since refuelling was outlawed, with Red Bull changing four tyres in a record 2.05 seconds during the 2013 Malaysian GP. Previously, mechanics would change tyres and wait for refuelling to finish before the car was released.

Quick turnaround times have led to concerns that crews are under too much pressure and may be more likely to make a mistake.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said: "I don't think anybody would disagree with improving safety - teams, drivers, media, promoters. It's difficult to find agreement on the way to do it. If they find a solution to increase the pit-stop time to improve safety and it is the same for all the teams, I think nobody will disagree."

McLaren's Jenson Button said he would advocate a return to refuelling, with new technology to limit the associated danger.

Webber said: "I think it's a sensational talking point. When they can turn a car around that quickly it's a great advert for the sport. It's another part of our operation to show how performance-orientated we are.

"It's impressive. A lot of people talk about that when they are in the garage and they see an F1 car come in and disappear. The difference between two seconds and three seconds is still impressive."

What do you think of the new grid penalty for loose wheels? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

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Read more on:    red bull  |  mark webber  |  tyres  |  formula 1

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